Because of last month’s wildfires, the football team’s game against Menlo-Atherton was postponed to Nov. 9. The Dons (9-1 overall, 4-1 Peninsula Athletic League) were able to close off their regular season with a 21-18 victory against the Bears (6-4 overall, 3-2 PAL).
Although renowned for their strong running ability, Aragon’s passing excelled in the game against M.A.
“Our passing game is always there for us,” said senior wide receiver Donaven Robinson. “We trust our running back [junior] Paul [Lautaimi] but sometimes we just gotta let [senior quarterback] Gabe [Campos] throw the ball to us.”
Robinson and junior offensive linebacker Simon Mapa both recorded their first touchdowns of the season off of consistent passes from Campos.
After a slow first quarter, the Dons led 6-0, scoring only off of field goals. But with just 1:56 left in the second quarter, Robinson caught a sharp pass from Campos for a 40-yard touchdown.
“It felt great to have that touchdown,” Robinson said.
The Dons followed with a trick pass play to lead 14-0. With under a minute left in the half, the Bears gained an offensive energy that the Dons couldn’t contain. With a series of passes to advance the ball 39 yards, M.A. completed a 31-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Troy Franklin.
“I think we were just losing our focus, we were just getting a little too hyped up,” said Campos. “We just gotta keep our composure and stay out there and give it what we got.”
Early in the fourth quarter, the Dons only led by four points. However, Mapa caught a 25-yard touchdown to boost their lead.
“It’s crazy because it was my first season touchdown,” said Mapa. “It was unreal.”
After going down with an injury late in the third quarter, Lautaimi returned to the game midway through the fourth quarter.
“The defender fell on my ankle straight on. It was horrible,” Lautaimi said. “I felt like I broke it or something, but I got on the sideline and it was all good.”
The Dons, now 9-1 overall, are looking for success in the Central Coast Section playoffs, as they’re the No. 2 seed in CCS Open Division II.
“We’ve worked too hard and all come a long way. We want this more than any other team,” Robinson said.
Finishing the season with only one loss, the football team is looking to continue its dominance through CCS.
The Dons have many offensive and defensive strengths, which have allowed them to play extremely well against tough teams such as Sacred Heart Prep and Terra Nova. The improved physicality both offensively and defensively has allowed the Dons to blow out teams. They were able to outscore the Gators 40-0 in just the first half.
“I think we have stuck with our core values and goals of our program,” said head coach Steve Sell, “to run the ball and stop the run,”
Aside from their running ability, the Dons have become more offensively balanced through Campos’ passing skills. The mixed offensive threats allow for Aragon’s success.
“Teams can’t guard the run 100 percent because we can actually throw the ball outside and play catch,” said assistant coach Steve Henderson. “I think we’ve improved offensively with our balance, and defensively we’ve become very effective throughout the year.”
The Dons have many experienced players to allow for offensive prosperity.
“Ian [Tapueluelu] is probably the best offensive linemen to come to this school since at least, I would say, 2002,” added offensive line coach Michael Wu. “Mario [Cruz] is the smartest offensive linemen I’ve ever coached.”
The players’ strong work ethic has allowed for tremendous success through the season. With various blowout victories and comebacks, the Dons have proven to be a strong CCS contender.
“We have a great team and a great coaching staff,” Robinson said. “We believe that we can beat anyone they put in front of us and compete to the highest capability.”
Despite their successes, the Dons have faced troubles due to the lack of practice time caused by the fires.
“Not to make excuses, but I think that impacted the way we played [against Burlingame] … I think taking that week off of playing and also of having consistent practices kind of hurt us,” Sell said. “But, in light of what other people in the fires were going through, it wasn’t a tragedy to us, it was a slight inconvenience for us.”
The Dons will host Westmont (4-3 Mount Hamilton, 7-3 overall) on Nov. 18. in their first game of the CCS playoffs.